Barbados Nuts. Purging Nuts. Physic Nuts. Semen Ricini Majoris. Pignon d'lnde (des Barbados), Sentences du Medicinier, Fr. Purgirnuss, Schwarze Brechnuss, G.—These are the seeds of Jatropha Curcas, L. (Fam. Euphorbiaceae), growing in Brazil, the West Indies, and cultivated extensively in all tropical countries. The fruit is a three-locular capsule, containing one seed in each locule, and is about the size of a walnut. The seeds are blackish, oval, 1.5 to 2 cm. long, flat on one side, convex on the other, and the two sides present a slight longitudinal prominence. They yield a fixed oil, an acrid resin, sugar, gum, a fatty acid, glutin, a free acid, and salts. A. Siegel (Bot. Centralb., xlvii, 120) found in the seeds a poisonous principle, curcin, which he states is analogous to ricin, and places in the class of toxalbumins. The oil, sometimes called jatropha oil, may be separated by hot expression, the yield being about 40 per cent. When fresh it is without odor or color, but becomes yellowish and slightly odorous by time. Alcohol does not readily dissolve it. It is colorless, odorless, of sp. gr. 0.91 at 19° C. (66.2° F.), solidifies to buttery consistence at -8° C. (17.6° F.). Bouis believed it to be the glyceride of a peculiar acid, isocetic acid, but it is now considered to be a mixture of palmitin and myristin. From three to five of the seeds, slightly roasted and deprived of their envelopes, operate actively as a cathartic, and not infrequently produce nausea and vomiting, with a sense of burning in the stomach. The oil purges in the dose of five to ten minims (0.3-0.6 mil), and is analogous in its action to croton oil, though less powerful. The cake left after the expression of the oil is an acrid emeto-cathartic, operating in the dose of a few grains. Either of these substances may produce serious consequences in overdoses. The leaves of the plants are rubefacient, and the juice is said to have been usefully employed as a local remedy in piles. (A. J. P., 1893, 335.) The seeds of Curcas multifidus (L.) Endl. (Jatropha multifida Linn.) have similar properties, and yield a similar oil. This species also grows in Brazil and the West Indies. (See Peckoldt, A. Pharm., 1887, 415.)
Jatropha gossypifolia Linn., of South America, is used as a local application in leprosy and to indolent ulcers, and probably has similar physiological influence to curcas. Jatropha urens, L., must be excessively poisonous, aa accidental contact of the wrist of a gardener in Kew with a young plant produced such symptoms that for five minutes the man was thought to be dead. (P. J., April, 1872, 863.)
The roots of the Jatropha cardiophylla Muell. Arg. are largely employed in Southern Arizona and Mexico for tanning purposes. According to the analysis of Josiah C. Peacock, they contain, when thoroughly dried, over 5 per cent. of tannic acid. (A. J. P., 1900, 432.)
The Dispensatory of the United States of America, 1918, was edited by Joseph P. Remington, Horatio C. Wood and others.